By: Rancy S. Teewia & Matthew H. Turry
After a series of commendations from the World Health for being able to control and manage the spread of the deadly COVID 19 pandemic, the news of the rise in the number of cases by 171 within just 3 days as announced by the Ministry of Health is worrisome.
Addressing Journalists today at the Ministry of Information regular Press briefing, Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina S. Jallah, reported that the new strain ‘B.1.1.7 variant’ is dangerous and has a faster infection rate then previous string experienced during the first and second waves of the COVID-19 outbreak in Liberia 2020.
Dr. Jallah stated that the continued surge can be attributed to lack of adherence to prevention measures instituted by the Incident Management System, non-compliance/adherence to protocols on home based care and weak cooperation with case investigation and contact tracing teams.
She said over the last 450 days since March 16, 2020 when Liberia recorded its first COVID-19 case, the Incident Management System, has recorded a total of 2,453 confirmed cases, out of which 608 of these cases were confirmed in 2021 with 300 active cases currently in Liberia, resulting into 92 confirmed COVID-19 deaths amounting to 28 cases (21-confirmed & 7-suspects) in treatment unit and 89 cases from home based care, while 2,058 persons have recovered out of a total 120,000 COVID-19 Laboratory tests conducted
“If Liberia must continue on path of reducing COVID-19 infection, we call on all, be it Liberians, or residents alike to continue the adherence to health protocols including safety measures; Go for voluntary testing, seek early treatment once confirmed, disclose contacts for follow-up and testing, and get vaccinated”. Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah stated
Also speaking at the occasion the Chief Medical Officer of Liberia and head of the COVID-19 Incident Management system (IMS) Dr. Francis Kateh said the Ministry of Health through the IMS is working closely with all of its partners to break the chain of this new transmission of COVID-19 and control a potential public health threat.
Dr. Kateh called on the general public to adhere to the COVID-19 preventive measures and encouraged eligible persons to get the COVID19 vaccination. “The incident Management system recommends public adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures and encouraging eligible persons to get the COVID-19 vacation,” Dr. Kateh urges.
The Chief Medical Officer has also disclosed the action taken by the incident management system to discontinue the spread of the new transmission of the virus. He noted that the IMS and partners have been implementing the COVID-19 response strategy since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, with regular incident management meetings three days per week and now daily due to the current situation. “With the emergence of an apparent third wave of concern, we are stepping up these efforts so that we can set up a system to quickly identify and break the chain of transmission.”
He said there is active investigation on past including new cases and their contacts within from June 1-6, 2021, and this includes active cases finding, testing and contacts tracing, increase surveillance to identify any new cases in Montserrado county, messages on Covid-19 prevention are aired on the Radio stations, case management which includes quality care to those who are in treatment unit. The IMS through the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), has commenced the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID- 19.
For his part, Dr. Jerry Brown, Pillar Lead, Case Management, said that currently Liberia is managing 118 COVID-19 cases both at treatment units and Home Base Care.
Dr. Brown said the pillar is managing 89 COVID-19 cases at Home Base Care, while 28 persons were being treated at the Star of the Sea Treatment Unit, totaling five Lebanese, two Indians, one Ghanaian and one Filipino.